Schalke look in-house for next Lewis Holtby
Schalke's Max Meyer can help fill the void left by Tottenham Hotspur's recent signing Lewis Holtby
Since Schalke and Tottenham Hotspur reached an agreement for Lewis Holtby to transfer between the two sides in January, the playmaker has quickly won over the White Hart Lane faithful.
A number of assured performances have led many Spurs fans to claim they have secured one of the bargains of the season. In Germany, Schalke fans were understandably upset to have lost one of their prized possessions for such a small fee, but luckily a 17-year-old academy graduate is showing signs that he can fill the void left by the German international.
Schalke's academy have produced some of the greatest players in the world over the last few years, and can count amongst its alumni the likes of Mesut Özil, Benedikt Höwedes and Manuel Neuer. Recently, Julian Draxler has broken into the first-team and looks to have a big future in the game. Those at the Veltins-Arena are hopeful Meyer can replicate his rise.
He made his debut around two weeks ago, coming on in the 72nd minute to replace the largely ineffective Raffael and he had an instant impact.
A nice bit of skill and a clever pass allowed Michel Bastos to score and help Schalke secure a draw against Mainz. To those outside of Germany, he might be a bit of an unknown but for Schalke fans and those across the country, the fact that Meyer had an immediate effect was hardly a surprise.
The attacking midfielder has been terrorising academy defences for a number of years now and has long been tipped as the future of German football.
Meyer has constantly been playing above his age group and this season he has been a revelation for Schalke’s under-19 squad. He was taken to Doha with the first-team during the recent winter break and excelled in an exhibition game against league leaders Bayern Munich.
Watching him play is extremely reminiscent of watching Mario Gotze when he first burst onto the scene with Borussia Dortmund. Meyer is your archetypical diminutive attacking midfielder standing at just 5ft 7in (ironically the same height as his role model, Lionel Messi) with an extremely low centre of gravity and phenomenal close control.
His technique is superb and for such a young player he reads the game brilliantly. Meyer is also a more than able goalscorer and is comfortable using either foot - on paper it really does sound like he has the complete package.
Schalke need to be careful, however. Players like Meyer can suffer from burnout extremely easily and at the moment Jens Keller seems content to use the youngster sporadically.
For now, this is probably for the best and Schalke have shown over the last few years that they are experts at integrating young talent slowly and successfully, so you can be sure they will do what is right for Meyer’s development.
Last year, Meyer took silver in the Fritz Walter awards (a ceremony in recognition of young German talent) following a tight battle with Leon Goretzka, and he is hotly tipped to claim the under-18 title this season.
Tottenham fans may be delighted with Holtby’s showings so far, but it looks like Schalke’s faithful will soon forget about their former star, and it could be Schalke who have the last laugh.
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